Making his return to TPC Boston in Norton official, Woods shot a 1-over 72, never settling into a groove and going on a birdie run of any kind. He’s seven strokes off the lead as Justin Rose topped the leaderboard, shooting a 6-under 65.
“When I did miss it, I missed it in bad spots, didn’t have very good angles,” Woods said after completing his first round at TPC since 2013. “But overall, no one is going low out there today. It’s tricky with the wind blowing the way it is right now. Hopefully tomorrow I can miss in correct spots and make a few more birdies than I did today.”
Woods lamented missed birdie putts on the 18th, 1st and 2nd holes (he began the day on the back 9) that cost him a chance to get under par at any point on the day.
The uneven day that stood before Woods was apparent almost from the get-go. After a quick session on the driving range in the morning prior to the round, Woods said that his trademark Tiger head cover had been placed on the wrong club, prompting a last-second change on the tee box.
“Yeah, that was pretty funny, actually, because I had – I thought – a 3-wood out. And – well, not we, Joey [LaCava, Woods’ caddy] had put the wrong head cover on from the range, so I had a 5-wood out, which I put down there, and like, I can’t hit it that far in the wind, I need a 3-wood. I went back to 3-wood, that’s why it looked like I switched, because I realized I had the wrong club in my hand.”
The shot hooked left into a wooded area, necessitating a drop and ultimately a bogey on the par-4 10th. He bogeyed the par-4 13th and par-3 16th before making his first birdie of the round on the par-4 17th.
Woods, who has the best career scoring average (68.19) among players with 20 or more rounds at TPC Boston, said he enjoyed playing in front of a Boston-area crowd – a crowd which he knows supports their local teams.
“I haven’t been here in a while,” Woods said. “It’s nice for them to come out. This is a great sporting town. They come out and support their sport and it’s nice to play in front of them. They were into it, they were supportive.”
Woods played in a group with Australia’s Marc Leishman, who shot a 3-under 68, and fellow American Chez Reavie, who finished one stroke behind Woods with a 73.
Leishman said he enjoyed playing in front of the massive galleries that Woods attracted, noting that if he’s going to be in contention in the final round on Monday, he’ll be playing in front of big crowds regardless of who he’s paired with.
“It’s good practice and good preparation,” Leishman said. “If I can play well, a lot more people will see it, so it’s good incentive.”
Leishman’s round could have wound up right in line with Woods or Reavie if not for a fortuitous bounce off a spectator on the 6th hole. He flew his second shot to the right, the ball careening towards the out of bounds marker, when it struck a fan from Worcester in the foot.
Leishman signed his glove and gave it to the fan on his way to search for the ball, which wound up within 50 feet of the pin. The Australian made the most of the opportunity, draining his birdie putt to sink to 3-under. He signed the ball and gave it to the same fan who helped propel his score.
“Hopefully I don’t need those sorts of breaks later in the week,” Leishman said. “But it was nice of him. He gave me a little break like that. Especially to make the most of the hole with a birdie, as well.”
The Woods, Leishman and Reavie group tee off together again on Saturday 1:16 p.m., this time on the front 9.